Japanese giant Panasonic is currently Tesla’s exclusive battery partner, but as its battery needs balloon along with demand for the upcoming Model 3, it’s only logical that the California company should keep its options open with other suppliers.
The Korea Times reported that Tesla has approached LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation. Tesla executives recently visited research centers to hold working-level meetings with all three Korean battery-makers.
The three firms are keen to boost their ties with Tesla, as Model 3 is expected to be the catalyst for a massive increase in EV sales around the world, according to an unnamed official quoted by the Korea Times: “The three Korean battery manufacturers can’t afford to lose the new business given the Model 3’s impressive initial responses from customers.”
Meanwhile, Panasonic says it is ready to bring its investment in the Gigafactory forward if needed. The current plan is for Panasonic to contribute $1.6 billion in phases over the next few years.
“We will do our best to move up the schedule if requested,” Yoshio Ito, head of Panasonic’s Automotive and Industrial Systems Division, told Reuters. “We just don’t want to be a bottleneck.”
Update: Musk says Panasonic will be exclusive battery supplier for Model 3
Sources: Korea Times, Reuters